Emerging Concepts in Glass Physics

Coordinators: Takeshi Egami, Michael L. Falk, Srikanth Sastry

While theoretical puzzles regarding the origin of the glass transition remain grand challenges for statistical and condensed matter physics, interest in glasses has expanded. This has resulted in a flowering of investigations regarding the origin of aging, fragility and dynamic heterogeneity, the prediction of glass formability and the response of glasses to mechanical stress and induced flow. A number of recent developments make this an exciting time for understanding the physics of glasses. New computational methodologies and increased computing power have made it possible to test the fundamental assumptions of well-developed theories. New experimental techniques have been developed for characterizing the structure of glasses.

Glasses find applications in a wide variety of contexts, and materials engineering of glasses continues to bring issues of fundamental importance to the fore. Significant advances in metallic glass alloy development have moved these materials to the threshold of application and serve as a recent case-in-point.

The KITP program on the physics of glasses was organized to provide a mechanism for the theoretical physics community to engage actively with materials researchers working on a number of materials systems, including molecular, polymeric and oxide glasses, with a specific focus on metallic glasses.

As a part of this three-month-long workshop, we are hosting a one-week conference during June 21 - 25, 2010. Participation by experimentalists is particularly encouraged. The topics covered include: the nature of supercooled liquid and the glass transition, jamming, crystal nucleation and glass forming ability, structural change, structural relaxation phenomena, fragility, mechanical properties, aging and other properties.

The talks will be relatively long, typically 30 min. talk and 15 min. discussion, to allow sufficient exchange of ideas. A few introductory talks (45 min. talk and 15 min. discussion) are also scheduled. The purpose of the presentations is not only to present the latest work but also to raise fundamental questions and provoke new thinking in the research activity in this field.